At Sound Mind, Sound Body Media Day today, I had the opportunity for a quick conversation with LB Commit James Ross.
James (in the video above): I'm James Ross, I committed to the University of Michigan. I committed there because that's the right fit for me, the perfect defense with Coach Greg Mattison, and I like what they're doing with the program.
Tim: You were one of Michigan's first 2012 commits. Is it exciting for you to see a bunch of talented recruits join the class since then?
James: It's actually very exciting to see all these great talents coming to Michigan. All of my close friends are coming, this is a real good experience to see all of this.
Tim: Is it exciting to see some of the guys you've known for a long time like Terry and Royce?
James [far right, with Shane Morris and Richardson]: Yeah, it's actually pretty fun to see all that. All of us played little league together and playing in college together, it just... it was the dream from the beginning, and now to see it's happening, it's really exciting.
Tim: I know St. Mary's doesn't really have winter graduation, so I'm guessing you won't be early-enrolling, right?
James: Well, my school really doesn't allow it, so yeah.
Tim: St. Mary's has made it to the State Championship Game and not quite finished it a couple of times in recent years. What is it going to take for you guys to take the next step?
James: Well, it's been troubling me for some time now. But I think once we get in that situation again, we've just gotta go practice way harder, and just take everything way more seriously. It seems like when we got there, it's like we're happy to be there, and we're not ready to play the game. So once we get there, we gotta take it more seriously.
TIm: You've been committed for a while, has that given you a chance to put your recruiting hat on a bit?
James: I've been recruiting a lot of guys. We were down at The Opening [Nike's pre-season combine], and that's all me and Terry were doing, was recruiting. But, we were at the Big House Barbecue, and Big PeeWee [MO DT Ondre Pipkins], the big D-Tackle, that's all I was in his head the whole time. I got his number, I'm texting him, on Facebook with him. I just need some big tackles in front of me, that's all.
Thanks again to James for taking some time to talk to me. Interviews with Shane Morris and Terry Richardson coming up next week.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the offensive side of the ball - the prospects whose games I'm most likely to attend this fall. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected], or post them in the comments of this post.
Farmington Hills Harrison had plenty of success on the field last year, winning 14 straight game en route to an undefeated State Championship season in Michigan's second-largest division. Devin finished the season with about 33 catches for 800 yards, while Mario notched 127 tackles and 12 sacks from the DT(!!!) spot, also causing three fumbles.
Harrison looks to be strong yet again in 2011, with not only Funchess and Ojemudia back, but teammate Aaron Burbridge reeling in the receptions - I'll be keeping an eye on the #2 prospect in the state of Michigan, as he's a prospect for the Wolverines as well. Harrison does have to replace quarterback Tommy Vento (a preferred walk-on at Michigan State), but if they can find a signal-caller, the other pieces are in place for a deep run.
I should catch quite a few Harrison games, and their season-opener against Cass Tech is a must-see for Michigan fans, as Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson will be suiting up across the field. That game is August 27th at 8PM in Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium.
HS Position: Slot Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
The Cass Tech Technicians (We're from Tech!) had enormous success last season for a city league team, falling in the State Semifinal game on a final-minute turnover to eventual champion Lake Orion. Tech sent four players to FBS teams following the season, including Michigan freshman CB Delonte Hollowell (Illinois, Toledo and W. Mich got the others). Royce rushed for 10 touchdowns, and added 90 tackles and five sacks on the other side of the ball, and Terry finished with 35 tackles and 12 interceptions, plus 12 receptions for 400ish(!) yards and five touchdowns.
Despite losing plenty of talent, Tech looks to reload with Terry and Royce as the leaders. Royce's fellow linebackers Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor both have multiple Big Ten offers, and DT Darryl Goldsmith is hearing from the MAC. There's talent in the 2013 class as well. The schedule sets up nicely, with the showcase game against Harrison leading into several Detroit teams whom Tech has dominated over the past couple years.
Aside from the season opener against Harrison, I should be able to make it to a couple more Tech games, many of which are conveniently scheduled during the day. The final two games are tentatively scheduled for Thursdays, which could mean more chances to check them out. [Ed-M: Bonus reason to go to a Tech game: their fan cheer is "Go Cass; Kick Ass!"]
Detroit Catholic Central
Detroit Catholic Central 2011
@ Dearborn Fordson
@ Delphos (OH) St. John's
De La Salle (@Lake Shore)
Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Tackle
Last year, the Shamrocks saw plenty of success, but lost in the State Quarterfinals to current Michigan freshman Brennen Beyer and his eventual runner-up Plymouth Wildcats. They closed out the season 9-3. Matt capped off a 66-tackle (28 for loss), campaign with All-Catholic Honors.
Catholic Central looks to rebound from a down year in 2010 (seriously, 9-3 is a down year) with a return to the state finals - they won the State Championship in 2009. Along with Godin, tight end Matt Doneth is a BCS prospect as a senior, and 2013 RB/DE Wyatt Shallman should be one of the top prospects in next year's in-state crop.
With Michigan's heavy recruiting of the Catholic League this year (James Ross attends Orchard Lake St. Mary's, and 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris goes to Warren De La Salle), I should be able to make it out to at least a couple of Godin's games.
St. Mary's Preparatory
Orchard Lake, MI
Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2011
GR West Catholic
Toledo (OH) St. John's
UD Jesuit (@Ferndale)
Columbus (OH) DeSales
Warren De La Salle
@ Det Catholic Central
Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Linebacker
Last year, St. Mary's reached the State Championship game, but fell to rival East Grand Rapids (as the Eaglets so often do in various sports) on a goal line stand in the fourth quarter. The only other losses in the 11-3 campaign for St. Mary's came to another rival in Birmingham Brother Rice (once in the regular season, once in the Prep Bowl). James finished his junior season with 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and an interception last year.
This year, the Eaglets have to replace a Penn State-bound WR Allen Robinson, along with their starting quarterback Mike Koenigsknecht. The onus will fall on the run game and defense to bring the Eaglets back to the playoffs.
I should be able to make at least a couple OLSM games this fall, particularly when they take on other Michigan prospects.
Rockford High School
Holland West Ottawa
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
The Rams are a traditional football power in the State of Michigan, so only reaching the semifinals last year (they bowed out to Brennen Beyer's Plymouth team) was a disappointment. The 11-3 seaosn also included road losses to Howell and Canton in the regular season. Braden is an offensive lineman, so his didn't accrue any stats.
Expect a disappointing 2010 season to fuel a deep run for Rockford this year, led by Braden up front. His other bookend, Parker Ehinger, is off to Cincinnati this year, so the Rams need another big lineman to step up in their run-heavy attack. There has been a lot of talk this summer about how Braden impressed on the camp circuit, so a strong senior year could help him move into four-star range to the recruiting services.
Rockford [shows hand, points at left side of palm] is positioned across the state from most of Michigan's other commits (and, you know, Michigan itself), so it'll be rare that I get to take in one of Braden's regular-season games. However, Rockford should make a deep run into the playoffs, and I'll hopefully get to catch a couple there.
De La Salle has not been a power in the Catholic League, but they put together a good 2010 season, reaching the State Quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual champion Farmington Hills Harrison. The other losses in a 9-3 season for the Pilots came to another pair of Michigan commits in Detroit Catholic Central's Matt Godin and Orchard Lake St Mary's linebacker James Ross. Morris completed 102 of 180 passes for 1,150 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and just 2 picks last season.
De La Salle should be about the same this year as they were last year, but with another year of experience for their star QB, they'll look to get over the next hump. With a very strong junior season, Shane can make an early argument for 5-star status in the 2013 class.
Since he won't be hitting campus for another couple years, I'm not prioritizing Morris's games as highly as the other prospects. I plan to be in attendance (when possible) for a couple contests against 2012 Michigan commits.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to[email protected].
Tom broke the news of Bolden's commitment last week, then caught up with Joe for a quick interview:
I wanted to [commit] in person because it shows more respect when you say it in person and look someone in the eyes to tell them you're coming to their school...
I'm very solid on it. I wouldn't have made the decision if I wasn't. There were a lot of factors that played into it, and there were some factors on why I did it so early. I thought why wait if it's the right school, with the right people, and I don't see any better opportunity to play college football and get an education.
While he's not exactly a quick-twitch athlete, he has above average coverage skills because of his instincts and awareness. Bolden also seems to have a top-quality motor with the willingness to chug back into plays that others would give up on. He flies to the football, makes solid contact, and wraps up ballcarriers.
His hips aren’t stiff and he can drop into coverage well, he’s got good coverage awareness. He reads the QB’s eyes at all times. Bolden probably plays smarter than either of the other two LBs we have committed.
There's essentially nothing to dislike about Ross as a prospect. Even though he's not lightning fast in a straight line, he's a true "quick twitch" athlete. Watching his feet and hips move, he has the agility of a safety. But the most impressive thing about Ross is how quickly he diagnoses plays. I'm not sure that I've seen a high school player - and certainly not a Michigan recruit - make quicker decisions and find the ball faster than Ross does.
"I still need to be more vocal and be the person that people can rely on. I try to be upbeat about everything -- workouts, conditioning, studying the playbook... I'm a great competitor, I hate to lose," Kiel said. "I'm going to work as hard as possible and try to make the other players on the team better every single day. Hopefully I can be the consummate teammate."
Making said article even more interesting is that the author included Michigan among his four favorites:
Michigan: "They have a new coaching staff and they are bringing a new offense on the table that's going to feature the passing game a lot. It's going to be a good system and they will be successful."
Meanwhioe, here are some Tyler O'Connor Highlights:
Appleby searched every nook and cranny he could for rehab edges. He found a a device called an ARPwave. It is similar to electro-stimulus muscle training, only amped up. It can be painful. Dwight Freeney used it to recover from an ankle injury during Super Bowl week and play in the game in 2010.
“It is the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Appleby said. “But I am so much stronger because of it. They would stick it to my quads and hamstrings, jack it up, and I would have to hold squats and lunges. The first month or so, I couldn’t make it up my stairs.”
His recruitment is blowing up, and many analysts say it will get even bigger once he proves he's healthy.
A couple more prospects are expected to make decisions soon. MI DE/DT Matt Godin will announce on May 12th (that's next Thursday) and MI TE Ron Thompson has been planning to announce soon, but may push that back:
I'm just not ready, it's too much. I think I'm far from a decision to be honest. There was a team that was looking good, but now there are others that have come aboard and I'm not sure if I'm ready.
Godin is choosing between Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Tom says that Thompson may still announce on the 11th, but it's no longer a certainty. "There was a team that was looking good" definitely seems like it should be followed by "and then they got two tight ends committed."
MI DE Mario Ojemudia (a teammate of Michigan commit TE Devin Funchess) has been making noises on twitter about making a commitment this month, so keep an eye out for him. [ed: As mentioned on the sidebar yesterday, rumblings out of Harrison suggest Ojemudia will end up at M. The main competition conceding is about as good of a sign as you can get.]
“I am still committed to Ohio State,” said Dunn, who rushed for 2,030 yards last season and scored 22 touchdowns. “I have been visiting other schools. I was basically trying to tell (the writer for the recruiting site) I’m still committed to Ohio State, but I’m going to visit other schools to keep my options open if anything happens to Ohio State. Who knows what’s going to happen.”
Dunn's father repeated that position to Tom, though they are considering a visit to Ann Arbor. "I am committed to School X but still taking visits," as former Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez would tell you, is secret code for "I am not committed to anybody, but School X is my strong leader." Since the chances of anything happening to Ohio State are 100%, keep an eye on Bri'onte.
Yeah, I'll narrow it down to a top five in June sometime... and I'll probably make my decision after my season. I don't mind waiting that long, it doesn't get annoying if you can manage it and prioritize things the right way.
We're open to everybody. We like Ohio State because we grew up fans of Ohio State, but we're giving everyone a chance. Michigan is recruiting me very hard. A lot of people say that I'm an Ohio State lean, but Michigan is still recruiting me hard and I like that. That says a lot about them that they're still coming after me like that. Their program was down last year but I think they're an up and coming program and they'll be back.
His high school Athletic Director played for Michigan's linebackers coach, Mark Smith, at Indiana, a potentially helpful connection. He also described his game:
I'm 6-foot-4, 258-pounds right now. I think my strengths are rushing the quarterback and being the first to the quarterback. I think I need to learn how to use my hands more, to use my hands better. That's something that I work on.
The Wolverines could certainly use an elite edge rusher.
NY CB/S Wayne Morgan told 24/7 Sports that he's most interested in Rutgers, Syracuse, and UConn, though they must have omitted the part where he said "and least interested in winning football games" (glass houses and all that, but whateva). Michigan dropped in on him last week.
BECAUSE THREE LINEBACKERS SIMPLY ISN'T ENOUGH!!! MI LB James Ross has become Michigan's 8th commitment in the 2012 class, and the fourth linebacker. His announcement is happening live on WTKA as we speak (...er, I post?)
4*, #2 MLB
250 Watchlist, NR LB
150 Watchlist, NR ILB
4*, 95, #2 ILB #84 Ovr
The sites, they like this guy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he's probably the consensus top recruit in Michigan's class right now - he and Royce Jenkins-Stone are typically listed right near each other in-state, but 24/7 Sports is much higher on Ross.
Scout and 24/7 say James is 6-1, but Rivals and ESPN say 6-0. Having seen the kid play in person several times, I would say 6-0 is more likely to be the accurate number. He's also listed between 209 (Rivals) and 217 (ESPN) pounds, with the middle votes cast at 215. Going with the majority, 215 seems to be the appropriate number.
Though none of the premium sites offer evaluations, Scout has a couple free articles talking about his game. The first:
Ross has been as dominant a PAL player the city has had in recent years. He is already pretty filled out for a kid as young as he is and his footwork in drills was quick and fluid.
That's prior to his sophomore year of high school. "As dominant as the city has seen in recent years" puts him on par with or more productive than recent #1s like William Campbell, Lawrence Thomas, and Will Gholston. The next breakdown puts him in the top five most-likely candidates to be the #1 recruit in Michigan's class of 2012:
He may not wow you with pads off like a Lawrence Thomas or Will Gholston, because he does not have the size of those guys, but you put the film on and Ross is arguably the best pure football player in the state. Toughness, big hits, excellent instincts and football smarts. He has all the intangible qualities you want in a middle backer.
That seems to be the book on James: not tall enough to be a true physical specimen, but he makes up for it with his football intelligence and willingness to lay the lumber. Sam Webb's weirdly-NCAA Tournament-themed recruiting column for the Detroit News listed Ross as a 1-seed:
He has all the top colleges looking at him and he is a guy that consistently, from game to game, plays the same way every single play. He fought through injuries in his junior season and demonstrated great toughness in the process. He's 6-1, 215, with good enough speed. His best attribute, though, is he is bona fide football player. This kid thinks the game as well as anyone.
Again with the football intelligence. For the record, Michigan has landed another "#1 seed" (Royce Jenkins-Stone) and a 2-seed (Devin Funchess).
This kid's offer list is something to get very excited about. We'll slowly build, starting with some of his less-notable BCS offers. Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Purdue are some of the middling programs that have offered this kid.
Then, there are the schools that have either had excellent success on the field or on the recruiting trail, specifically with linebackers: Arizona State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and USC. The latter three all have legitimate claims to some sort of mythical "Linebacker U" distinction, and are keynote offers.
He also had interest but no offers from Alabama and LSU, which would have really sealed him as a top prospect.
So Michigan has all these linebackers in the past couple classes, and though James seems to be one of the 2012 guys who's most ready to play immediately, all the new depth might mean he doesn't have to. If the coaches want to get the kid on the field, special teams and mop-up duty are an option.
Following a couple years of duty as a special teams and depth player, James should be able to work his way into the lineup as a junior (possibly a redshirt junior), and even have a star turn or two. By the time he leaves Ann Arbor, he could be a multi-year all-conference player. He has NFL potential, as long as teams aren't scared away by his lack of height.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
OK, now they really have to be done accepting commitments from linebackers, right? The position is filled with two exceptional recruiting classes over the past two years. Although, especially given the haul in 2012, some of last year's guys may be due for position switches.
After the coaching staff picks up a couple defensive linemen, another good offensive lineman or two, and a quarterback, they should have the luxury of being very picky about who they pursue, and only going hard after the top guys.
Farmington Hills Harrison's trio of WR Aaron Burbridge, DE Mario Ojemudia, and TE Devin Funchess got some press in last week's Detroit Newsrecruiting column by Sam Webb. First, the skill breakdowns by Harrison's coach. On Burbridge (pictured at right):
"He has tremendous explosion and acceleration," stated Herrington. "He is one of those kids that has two gears. He can go out for a pass and it looks like it is overthrown, then suddenly he explodes on the ball. He is a very tough kid, a good blocker, and has great hands. He still has a ways to go in learning all his routes, but he can catch the ball just off his shoe tops, or he can go up and get it if it is way over his head like he did in the state finals."
"As far as his game, he has got to get some size. He's about 215-218. If he gets up to college and he gets up to 245, he'll just be amazing. He could be a hybrid. We've never played him (standing) up, but he's fast and he could play an outside linebacker. I think he is better down, but he's always wanted to play up as a linebacker, so we'll see."
"He is going to be a great prospect when he puts on weight. He can be a tight end, an H-back, a split end. He has big hands. I'm not sure what he's going to run the 40 in, but I think he could be around 4.6 or 4.7."
And the recruiting news:
The Spartans have a strong connection with Harrison thanks to decades of mining some of the school's most notable talent. They've placed Burbridge and Ojemudia high on their list of priorities, and the feeling is definitely mutual... The Wolverines' chances with Funchess seem more promising, but he stops short of naming them his favorite.
There is much more in the article, including quotes from the players, so be sure to check it out. In another article, Ojemudia didn't hesitate to name Michigan State his leader. He said Michigan has a lot of work to do if they want to catch up with the Spartans.
Though he's an Ohio State commit, OH OL Kyle Kalispicked up a Michigan offer last week. He told Tom he's firm with the Buckeyes, but is willing to visit Ann Arbor with his teammates (TE Sam Grant, OL Tyler Orlosky, and DT Greg Kuhar) should the opportunity arise.
“When we were little, we wanted to play together, but we know how difficult that may be,” said Ross. “If it works out, it does and that would be great, but we probably won’t make our decisions based off what somebody else does.”
According to Rivals, CA TE Taylor McNamara was close to committing to Ohio State early in the process, but now plans to wait before making a decision. Miami (YTM) and USC are also near the top for him.
IN TE Pierre Aka wants to major in nuclear engineering and has a top 4 of Stanford, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State. Though he doesn't hold any offers, he's in contact with Michigan's staff.
IL OL Dan Voltz has made his first cut, and the lucky schools are Auburn, Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. He seems to be really high on Notre Dame following a visit to South Bend. Voltz's junior highlight:
"I love everything about Tennessee," O'Brien said. "The playing time they have to offer is outstanding. I think they are also on the rise in the SEC and in the nation. If I went to another top school I would probably have to sit for a year. Also, the atmosphere of an SEC team is awesome. I have been to the Big House and everything, and it's great, but it didn't compare to the atmosphere of an SEC game."
His recruiter under the previous staff was Flint-area expert Fred Jackson, and he also had a relationship with Chris Singletary. Both are still around, and O'Brien's family has its share of Michigan fans, so the Wolverines have a chance to swing him. For what it's worth, Rivals says Michigan "may be gaining steam" ($, info in header).
The more offers Shittu receives the more he’s thinking about delaying his decision but he still could end it if the right situation suits him. “If Michigan ends up being in my top five or my top seven, whatever I make when I make it, if I can’t get out there on an unofficial visit then I’ll definitely take an official visit to see what’s up there,” Shittu said.
He had been considering an early commitment to Stanford, so waiting on a decision is a good thing for the Wolverines. The Cardinal are his favorite ($, info in header).
"It was an amazing experience and Coach Tressel is such a great person. It was so nice to sit down with him and just talk. Not even about football, but about my family and Mentor and school and everything. It was a really good day. This has all been very humbling. I am fortunate to be in this position and to get the kind of attention I have received."
He claims that the Buckeyes do not lead, but it certainly sounds like they have an edge. He plans to decide before his senior season.
It's a little light on features right now, and is hardly more advanced than umhero's offer board (a hearty tip o' the hat to umhero because I definitely used his list to fill in a few gaps in my own), but I plan to add more in the near future. Individual players will have pages of their own with more information, links to posts that mention them, video, and much more.
I'll start rolling out the 2.0 features ASAP. It's a wiki, so users with more than 500 points can edit it.
MORE New Offers
The coaching staff is offering kids left and right, so between the time I publish this and the time it hits your eyeballs, things are subject to change. Bear with me.
OH RB Bri'onte Dunn is currently an Ohio State commit, but that didn't stop Michigan from offering him last week. The Buckeyes already have another back (Warren Ball) committed in the class, and the Wolverines' coaching staff may try to sell him on being "the guy" in this class.
Decker is the fourth five-star tackle in this class. The sooner he becomes a football player first, the sooner he will become the football player that he can be. I have him as a five-star but that has everything to do with his physical tools. He still has some work to do to catch up with Kalis, Dodson and McGowan as football players.
Brian covered a bit of the drama around MI DE Matt Godin last week. TomVH Godin update ...and by the end of the week, he received his offer ($, info in header). Godin was on campus yesterday, and enjoyed it.
OH S Jarrod Wilson was offered by Michigan. He's a true free safety, which you may note is an area of weakness on Michigan's roster. He visited Ann Arbor with his teammate, WR Corey Smith, over the weekend ($, info in header). Tom talked to Smith, who will talk to Michigan's coaches about whether he's a better fit on offense or defense before they extend him an offer. Both players plan to wait until the Under Armour game to announce.
Bush, a rangy safety, measured in at close to 6-foot-1 and 180-pounds and ran a blazing 40 yard dash of 4.44 seconds. He moved quickly and fluidly through the three-cone drill for a taller athlete, bending and getting low out of his cuts. His vertical was a very respectable 34 inches, he hammered out 17 reps on the bench and showed good lower-body explosion with a 10-foot-5 broad jump.
He's got a number of top offers, so expect a fight for this kid.
Ohio DE Ifeadi Odenigbo finished 5th overall with a Sparq score of 109.02. This was Ifeadi's first combine, and he placed fifth overall out of hundreds and hundreds of kids...
Ifeadi's teammate, OL Benny McGowan (6'4", 300 lbs) was the first offensive lineman to ever score over 100 on the Sparq scale. Ifeadi told me that Benny was injured for most of his season, which is why there aren't more schools after him, but he's a sleeper. Benny also happens to like Michigan, and has them in his top five...
RB Marc Cargle from Pontiac held the top overall score with 111.3. Cargle was hurt for most of his season, which is why there hasn't been much hype around him.
Recent offeree Matt Godin is friends with MI DT Danny O'Brien, and they rode home from the midwest combine together (although Novi and Flint aren't remotely close to each other if Ann Arbor is the point of departure). Danny still holds Tennessee as his favorite, but says he's interested in playing with Godin in college.
IL OL Jordan Diamond didn't participate in the Best of the Midwest Combine this weekend, but he still traveled to Ann Arbor with 2011 Commit Chris Bryant and 2012 IL QB Robert Gregory. Diamond enjoyed his visit, but isn't any closer to making a decision.
What makes Odenigbo so intriguing is his mixture of size, strength and speed. He was the Elks’ best sprinter last spring, excelling on the 400- to 1,600-meter relays. He also ran away with Centerville’s preseason conditioning test last fall, a combination of strength, agility and speed.
The offer is a bit unexpected, as most thought OSU wouldn't have the spare scholarship to extend him an offer. They become his heavy favorite blah blah blah. This is especially disappointing because now Sam Webb's recruiting column last week is likely for naught:
The Buckeyes extended a scholarship offer Wednesday -- a development that many pundits believe is an ominous sign for all of the other programs giving chase.
Since he's not a Buckeye yet, how about a little talk on his game:
"He has great physical tools," Centerville coach Ron Ullery told Scout.com. "He has a great frame. He's going to grow and have good weight on him. What he has is speed -- speed off the edge and change of direction -- and it's explosive speed. ...he was the only guy I saw on film all year chase down (five-star Ohio State quarterback signee) Braxton Miller, and he did it two, three, maybe four times."
"He's a kid with a very high ceiling," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com's Midwest regional manager. "He's a smart, coachable kid who can project into a lot of systems. In the Midwest he's one of the top prospects. I like the film more and more each time I go through it. His lack of size is holding him back some, but I think he's a high four-star type prospect."
On the bright side, this means Chris Wormley probably won't get a committable offer from the Buckeyes, and is pushed toward Michigan.
"Keith is without a doubt one of best backs in the country," said Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore. "There are not too many better. What separates him from everyone else is his work ethic on the field, in the classroom, and during the offseason. He always wants that edge. Keith has this internal drive and wants to be the best. Keith is just a great competitor that makes others better around him."
Also, mark this down for a FAKE 40 time in case the kid ends up going Blue:
While Marshall was timed at 4.25 in the 40 at UNC's camp, he also runs with power, balance and vision
The Michigan offer is big, Peat said, mainly because of the program’s tradition and its success of producing offensive linemen over the years. The Wolverines will definitely be considered as his recruitment continues. “It’s definitely a big offer with how much they’ve won over the years and they definitely put out a lot of good offensive linemen so it’s one I’m looking at,” Peat said.
The schools will have, like Michigan does, a good combination of football and academics. It has to be a school that I feel comfortable being at because I will be spending the next four to five years of my life there. Lastly, there has to be a stable coaching staff, that will play a part in it.
Saying "the schools that make my cut will be like Michigan" is certainly a good sign that the Wolverines are in the hunt.
He's interested in academics, that's one of the reasons why Michigan appeals to him. He wants to play at the highest level he can, and the Big Ten and Michigan are right up there," said Patton. "The Big Ten is very prestigious, and he wants to go to a place that respects football and a good education. His family is very academically oriented, and they've said they'll move out of state for Kyle"
Sounds like academics are getting more than lip service, which helps Michigan.
MI LB James Ross was offered by Ohio State. Though OLSM has been friendly to the Buckeyes in recent years, I've heard they think Taurian Washington hasn't been treated right in Columbus, so keep an eye on that situation. Ross and his dad both came away impressed with Michigan after an unofficial visit over the weekend. Ross played hockey growing up, which he credits with his growth as a player:
“I actually think hockey is what separates me from most linebackers,” Ross said. “I think it helped me with that first quick step and getting to the ball as fast as you can, because hockey, once you see it you have to go. There is no delayed step into it. That’s definitely something that separates me.”
He says Ohio State and Michigan are certain to make his first cut, so it's safe to say those are an early top 2. He visited Michigan this weekend ($, info in header).
The 2011 class is over, so it's time to look ahead to next year. But first...
As you may recall, Michigan signed 19 talented high schoolers last Wednesday, including a signing Day surprise(ish) in TX TE Chris Barnett. Yes, I mostly just wanted an excuse to use this picture again.
Of course, OH S Greg Brown was already enrolled in Ann Arbor, and didn't need to fax his LOI.
As for the other prospects who were still on the table:
MD DT Darian Coopersigned with Iowa. He had been favoring the Hawkeyes for some time, and a late push by Michigan (courtesy of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) couldn't sway him to be blue.
CO LB Leilon Wilingham signed with UCF. He committed to Texas A&M without ever visiting, and then had reported silent commitments to Colorado and Michigan before switching to the Knights on Signing Day. He's a loss for Michigan's class, but sounds like a kid who can't make up his mind, either.
For those who can't stop asking about FL WR Prince Holloway despite repeated claims he wouldn't come to Michigan, he signed a letter of intent to a Junior College in Kansas.
Since I've been actively neglecting the 2012 class in favor of in-depth coverage of 2011 for the past couple weeks, updates from rising seniors should be hectic throughout the month of February. Things should settle down by the end of the month, and look for a recruiting board (with revamped format) by that time.
First, let's look at a list of 2012 recruits with offers:
Michigan has an offer out to WA OL Zach Banner, who has already committed to participate in next year's Army All-American Bowl. He's one of the top prospects in the nation, and is probably a longshot for the Wolverines.
DC DT Eddie Goldman, one of the nation's top defensive linemen, holds a Michigan offer, but is probably a longshot.
Ohio State-centric recruiting experts are already conceding OH DE Chris Wormleyto the Wolverines. His reasoning gets a little muddled, but if Ohio State will give up Wormley in order to land Adolphus Washington and Greg McMullen, more power to them.
Yes, I want Wormley. No, I am not going to lose any sleep over his decision to go to Michigan should be choose to do so. Great kid and I wish him all the best should that be where he chooses to spend the next four or five years of his life.
Wormley is going to be a solid 4-star or borderline 5-star guy, so Michigan's recruiting class should get a great early boost should he decide for the Wolverines.
There may be a couple more offers out there, but this is (almost) all of them that I'm aware of. A couple guys are already committed to other schools - such as FL WR Avery Johnson to LSU - so I haven't included them.
Before expressing worry about "Hey, this kid loves Michigan and we're slipping because we haven't offered him yet," keep in mind that the Michigan staff wants to evaluate prospects on film before extending an official offer. Some of them may even be close to committing if they held a Michigan offer, and the coaches want to know for sure whether it's a prospect that they really want before the kid potentially joins the Class of 2012. Offers should be coming soon for a lot of these guys, so it's not a huge delay, especially for a new coaching staff. Here are some of the guys for whom that possibly applies:
A safety with that size and instincts, a sound tackler who is comfortable in both the run and pass is going to be a big time recruit. Should be a prospect that can come in and player earlier than later. The weaknesses we see are nothing that can’t be corrected with solid coaching and a willing learner, which Bradley is.
Bradley's from Trotwood-Madison, one of Michigan's favorite schools of late.
Happy Trails (already!) to AZ QB Connor Brewer. One of the top pro-style QBs in the country committed to Texas.
The past couple weeks have been heavy with updates on official visitors, but with MIchigan taking on a couple lesser opponents i the next two weeks, important visits are likely on hold until the Michigan State game. Stay tuned later for a visitor's list for that game.
NC QB Marquise Williams (at right) is committed to North Carolina, but that won't stop him from officially visiting Michigan ($, info in header). No word on how serious the interest is, or whther Michigan is even in a position where they can use a second scholarship on a quarterback.
FL RB Demetrius Hart (whom you may have heard of) still favors Michigan over Auburn and Alabama, but has added Arkansas to his list as well. He's officially visiting the Tigers this weekend, but is expected to pick Michigan sometime soon. He will enroll early at his school of choice, so a decision will be coming soon.
NJ TE Jack Tabb will take his time finishing up the recruiting process. Michigan, North Carolina, and the Florida schools seem to be out front for him at this point.
According to WTKA, MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel skipped out on an official visit to Iowa... to watch Michigan play on TV. That sounds pretty positive for the Wolverines' chances of landing him. He intends to visit both Michigan and MIchigan State on Saturday. He now plans to wait until the end of the season to make a decision.
Auburn, Cal, FSU, Michigan, North Carolina and Southern Cal are all supposed to get visits. So there are plenty of takers out there.
Michigan's strong season may be helping convince him that Ann Arbor is a place he can come to win championships.
FL S Ha'sean Clinton-Dix (pictured at right) is about "85 percent" committed to Alabama. Despite softening up his commitment status, MIchigan is not one of his top schools. Florida, Florida State, and USC are his top non-Alabama suitors.
"I'm committed to FSU, but I'm still watching FSU, Miami, USC, Michigan, and Ohio State," he said. Karlos had previously stated that he may take some of his official visits, if the schools he's monitoring are having good seasons, and if he has the time.
Though he sounds likely to stick with FSU, the Wolverines' chnces will improve dramatically if he takes a visit to Ann Arbor.
LA CB Daren Kitchen is thinking about visiting for the Michigan State game ($, info in header). Though he doesn't hold an offer from the Wolverines yet, Michigan and Texas A&M are his top two.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012
Local fluff on FL OL Abraham "Nacho" Garcia, including a list of top schools:
"I'm looking at LSU, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and UM. I've visited a lot of colleges. For right now, those are the top [ones]. So until I see other colleges that's how it's going to stay for a while."
He's' previously said SU leads for him, but there's plenty of time to sway him.
MIchigan is among the suitors for IL DT Vincent Valentine. He'll take his time making a decision (which means there's a looooooong way to go in his recruitment).
OH DE Chris Wormleyvisited Michigan for the UConn game ($, info in header), as did MI LB James Ross ($, info in header).
At about the 0:55 mark, that's FL WR Sammy Watkins gettin' his crush on (good pad level, that). If football and school don't work out, there's a future in stunt acting, no doubt.
Camps And Visits
The annual Sound Mind, Sound Body Camp took place at Wayne State over the weekend, drawing many of the midwest's best prospects. Sam Webb previewed the event in his Detroit News column last week:
Thanks to additional help from sponsors like Powerhouse Gym, the U.S. Army, and Scout.com, Sound Mind-Sound Body has reached farther beyond Michigan's border than ever before. As a result, before the first whistle is blown at this year's camp, it will have already surpassed last year's mark of hosting 55 prospects that eventually earned scholarship offers.
"Seventy kids already have Division I scholarship offers," said Blackwell. "We have kids coming from as far as Arizona and Minnesota. It is astounding. I'm just in awe really. This is more of a regional event now."
Prospects of interest for Michigan fans were many, and included OH OL Aundrey Walker, IL OL Chris Bryant, MI WR Commit Shawn Conway, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett, MI CB Valdez Showers, and MI CB Commit Delonte Hollowell. The Class of 2012 was represented as well, with MI LB James Ross (pictured above), MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, and IL OL Jordan Diamond leading the way.
Michigan's summer camp also started over the weekend (and ended yesterday). Tom ran down some of the participants, and is updating that Diary as he gets new information. Check back for the latest updates, and to know who you should keep on commitment watch.
Safety prospect Avery Walls had a great visit to Ann Arbor last week, even his mother (an OSU grad) was impressed. Michigan really rolled out the red carpet, with virtually all the coaches greeting Walls in Schembechler Hall, and it paid off. He also visited MSU whilst he was up here, but UM probably has the better chance.
Walls would be a huge grab for Rodriguez and co., but don't expect a decision any time soon.
Michigan makes the top 5 for FL S LaQuentin Smith, who is visiting with his teammate, FL RB Demetrius Hart, for the Iowa game:
"I would say that right now my top five is Arkansas, South Carolina, South Florida, Ole Miss and Michigan," Smith said. "And I still have love for Colorado State because they were the first to offer me."
Smith also hinted in the article that both Smith and Hart are considering a Michigan commitment during the visit. Hart also came in for some spring fluff:
Top RB - Dee Hart, Dr. Phillips. Hart was wiped out after playing two ways for almost 15 games over the weekend as the Panthers had to fight their way back through the losers' bracket. He rarely showed that fatigued on the field, however, and he was DP's go-to-guy, as usual, helping them reach the championship game.
The Panthers were runners-up in the USF 7-on-7 Tournament.
IN RB Remound Wright. He held a (non-committable, I think) Michigan offer, but has committed to Stanford.
TX RB Jarrell Oliver. He committed to Utah, where he'll be in the Utes' first recruiting class as a BCS program. Michigan seemed to cool on Oliver due to interest in other RBs (and teammate, TX S Sheroid Evans, coming off the board to Texas).
Future happy trails to TX CB Charles Jackson, who is deciding soon ($, info in header). He holds a Michigan offer, but hasn't really mentioned the Wolverines since receiving it.
MI CB/Ath Raymon Taylor committed to Indiana. I, for one, will be shocked if he's still a four-star by the end of the process. The local BCS programs have had tons of opportunities to see him play, and neither considered him worthy.
Still With The Quarterbackin'
Michigan might not be dead for NC QB Marquise Williams, as he claims to not have made a decision yet, but VT or North Carolina (where he took a recent unofficial) is the presumptive choice. With his decision coming this week, we're approaching a "Happy Trails" moment for him.
I called coach (Rod) Smith today, and they are going to recruit me. He is meeting with coach Rodriguez tomorrow as to a possible offer. He said that the guys they were recruiting are no longer interested in Michigan, and they have opened it up again as far as looking for a QB.
Should he receive that Michigan offer, don't forget he's said it would be hard to turn down in the past. He did tell Tom that he would visit Ann Arbor before making a decision for the Wolverines, but he may have that opportunity soon. He's roadtripping with his coach to several midwest schools, and if a Michigan offer is imminent, that schedule could probably be adjusted for a stop in Ann Arbor.
I've made it no secret that I think Sousa would be a great pickup for the QB in this class. If you want a little more on him, he has a variety of highlight videos available, including one from his spring game back in May:
“My top schools that I’m looking at right now are Florida, Cincinnati, Michigan, Pittsburgh and North Carolina. Those are the top ones I’m looking at. I know a little bit about each one of them. From talking to college scouts I like what those (schools) have had to say. They’ve been telling me how good their school is for sports and education.
He may visit Ann Arbor sometime this summer.
Michigan, USC, and Oregon had been a pseudo-top 3 for AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena, but the sanctions against the Trojans may have affected that. He talked to Tom:
I asked him what his reaction was, and he said, "I want to say it doesn't affect me, but it does. It's two years, which would end after my first year, so I would be there for it. I don't know if there's anything more, but if the NCAA finds more, then who knows what else they'll do. You never know with the NCAA."
Yruretagoyena recently released a top 7, including all three of those schools, along with Arizona, Arkansas, Oregon State, and Washington. It may be notable (and discouraging) that Michigan is one of only two non-PAC10 schools on the list.
Coach Rodriguez is a cool guy. They're going through some things right now, but I believe that they're going to get through it. Coach Fred (Jackson) is good friends with my dad now, too. They've developed a good friendship through this recruiting process, so that's pretty cool. Plus, they play in the Big House. I've seen pictures of the stadium, and campus online, and I just can't wait to see all that.
If (when?) Michigan gets him on campus, it could be a huge boon to Michigan's chances to land him.
Shortly after Michigan offered, they were the heavy favorite for MI LB Ed Davis. However, the Wolverines have fallen off slightly, thanks to some new offers and negative recruiting.
As he did for junior days earlier this year, Tom has built up a roster of those attending (and not):
MI OL Anthony Zettel
OH DE Chris Rock
MD DT Darian Cooper
OH OL Ray Ball
VA LB Corey Marshall
OH WR AJ Jordan
MI DE Commit Brennen Beyer
For comments on these guys, a list of those who aren't making it, and all the latest updates, check out Tom's diary. A couple other sources also have updates:
NC LB/WR Kris Frost (pictured above ) says he's trying to make it to the BBQ at the Big House this weekend, but is unsure, due to travel costs. Frost was the subject of this week's Sam Webb profile in the Detroit News. Michigan is trying to stay out front:
"Well, I've always wanted to go to Michigan," admitted Frost. "I've always wanted to attend that school. When I went up to Michigan (for the program's annual summer football camp) I was really excited. It was everything that I really thought it would be."
"I think Michigan is the team to beat because he's liked Michigan his whole life," added [Butler coach Mike] Newsome. "When I told him that they had offered him he almost jumped up and hit his head on the ceiling. He is really excited about Michigan."
Of course, it's not all sunshine and lollipops:
"Unfortunately for them, there's the problem that they are going through with their program right now. I think it is something that Kris is looking at right now and is using that to look at some other schools. "
As long as Michigan has a good season and the coaching staff staves off any threat of losing their jobs, Michigan should remain the team to beat (as we shared last week). For the record, he now says that, while he'd prefer to play wide receiver in college, he's open to playing linebacker.
Unfortunately, FL RB Demetrius Hart will probably not be making the trip. FL S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix says his teammate will ultimately pick Alabama. HC-D has been saying things like this for a while, so take it with a grain of salt until Hart himself goes on the record.
"No one's in the lead right now. Everything is wide open for me. I'm going to start taking trips in June, or July. After that I'll start all my officials, when I'm allowed to." When asked if Michigan will receive one of those visits, he said, "I'm definitely going to talk to my dad about that one."
“It would probably be North Carolina, West Virginia and Michigan. They’re all pretty even at this point,” he said.
“I haven’t talked to North Carolina a lot. I’ve maybe talked to them twice. I like how they’ve been open with me. They sound good right now but I’ve got to go up there and get to know them some more before I say too much.
“Michigan is the same thing pretty much. I like their coach—the recruiting coach for around my area. I met him in person and he seems like a real nice dude.”
Michigan looks to be in good shape for his recruitment.
The 5-foot-9.5, 173-pound uber athletic defensive back prospect entered the evaluation period with offers from Arkansas and Houston (his first offer), but has since added written offers from California, Michigan and Baylor along with a verbal offer from Missouri.
Last week, May 5, coaches from Texas (Will Muschamp) and Oklahoma (Willie Martinez) stopped by the 5A school to watch the corner with a 40 1/2-inch vertical leap.
Oklahoma and Texas interest means he's probably a top prospect, but also that he'll be a tough pull for Michigan.
Michigan is close to offering PA OL Paul Gaughan ($, info in header). Same story with another Pennsylvanian, DE Desimon Green ($, info in header).
Happy Trails, Trai Turner. Just a few days after saying he'd take his time and look at a few schools, LA OL Trai Turner committed to Louisiana State ($, info in header). His teammate, LA S Renaldo Thomas did or will do the same. No word yet on the third St. Augustine prospect, LA OL Jonah Austin. Austin does not hold an offer from the Tigers.
Happy trails as well to OH OL/DT Michael Bennett. With a final two of Ohio State and Northwestern, he picked the Buckeyes over the weekend.
We found out last week that Michigan was in the top three for NC QB Marquise Williams, and now he's trimmed his list to consider only five schools ($, info in header). Michigan, Notre Dame, and North Carolina are in that final group.
AR QB Kiehl Frazier is still wide open, but it seems as though Arkansas, Auburn, and Notre Dame comprise an unofficial top 3.
"I'm really wide open until I take some visits to see schools," Frazier told Sporting News. "After spring ball, I'm going to go some places and take it in."
A trip to Notre Dame could also mean dropping in on Ann Arbor, so stay tuned.
“I think Michigan will be in the mix without a doubt because those guys have done a great job,” [Chaparral coach Charlie] Ragle said. “Tony (Dews) and those guys that come out here - Tony mainly recruits this area but Coach (Greg) Frey came out - they do a good job, but like I said, the players sell your program.”
Ragle said the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Yruretagoyena is in regular contact with both Lewan and Roh, and that Michigan likely will be in Yruretagoyena’s final five when he cuts his list in the coming month.
So, Oregon probably leads, but Michigan has a chance to get back into it.
FL TE Brandon Fulse is hearing from Rod Smith a lot ($, info in header).
Michigan is a co-leader for MI LB Dwight Trammer. Though the Wolverines haven't offered, Rod Smith got a couple chances to scout Trammer last fall (pictured at right doing just that), as he's a former Inkster teammate of current Wolverines QB Devin Gardner.
According to some Detroit newspaper of no repute, MD DT Vincent Croce has a top three of Michigan, Michigan State, and Virginia.
OH CB Doran Grant says "haha j/k" about his top 6 list also serving as a final 6 ($, info in header).
SoFlaFootball visits Chaminade-Madonne High School in Florida, and breaks down a couple guys we've been talking about recently in S Jonathan Aiken, WR Curt Evans, and QB Jerrard Randall.
The issue that Randall continues to struggle with is the fact he can be erratic with his accuracy, which became apparent during the 7-on-7 portion of the practice.
Evans played a little of everything on the day starting at cornerback, getting some carries as a running back, before finally moving out to wide receiver.
Aiken has good bulk on him and is a good athlete. He did not look to be fluid enough in coverage to move to a corner spot like many have debated; safety is probably his best option.
NJ OL Shane Mertzwants to hear from Michigan. Mertz is 6-8, 280lbs, and has great grades. I bet coaches would love to have him in camp to see what he can do.
As for academics, I am interested in mechanical engineering as a major so a school with a strong engineering program is very important. I’m looking into becoming an aerospace engineer. That’s what I want to do. Maybe some day work for NASA.
I am looking for a program that has high quality football facilities and state of the art training. I don’t have anything specific in mind but I’d like to be at a place that has great training facilities.
Samrt kid, would be a good addition.
Schools I would like to hear from are Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Definitely Michigan though. My dads mom is actually from Michigan. So my dad has always been a die hard Michigan football fan. It would be a great achievement for me if I could get an offer from them.
He's very interested, hopefully Michigan gives him a look.
“Auburn offered me as an athlete and Michigan offered me to play defensive back,” Buie said. “I want to play running back but I’m open to a couple of other positions.”
Doesn't sound like he's interested, and the Wolverines may fade from his recruitment.
Greg Frey and Tony Dews recently stopped into Fort Meyers to visit FL WR Sammy Watkins and his teammate, CB/Ath Dallas Crawford.
Michigan leads for LA CB Daren Kitchen ($, info in header), and he says it would be "hard to turn down" an offer from the Wolverines.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012.
Michigan is already in good position with a number of 2012 prospects. We already knew about MI LB James Ross, but his youth football teammate, MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, now at a school called "Cass Tech" (you may have heard of it) considers Michigan among his top schools ($, info in header).
The Wolverines also lead for OH DE Chris Wormley ($, info in header). Wormley should be a top-5 player in Ohio next year.